Deformed branching

missminni(6B)November 8, 2010

In the course of cleaning leaves in my roof garden this week I came across three plants with deformed branching.

They were:

1. A tall (8 - 10 ft) Smokebush that had a coupe of branches that became wide (about 2 inches wide) and flattened at the ends. The ends also curled up like a snail. They seemed to have a whitish haze. I cut the whole

plant back to about 4 feet.

2. A Blueberry bush that had a branch growing from the base

that started as a normal branch but immediately became very wide and flat...about 2 to 3 inches wide at the widest and about 3 feet long. It looked very weird.

3. A baby Hawthorne that had a strange rusty looking growth

at the base of a branch that was coming from the center main stem. When I cut it at the junction it was dry and crumbling.

I cut the deformed branches off and thew them away. Now

I wish I had photographed them, but at the time I just wanted to get rid of them.

Any idea what might be causing this deformity?? I've never seen anything like it before.

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Not that is makes a lot of difference but are these plants growing in containers?

The flattened and distorted stems of the smokebush and blueberry sounds like they may be affected by fasciation. Fasciation is a growth phenomenon that results in flattened, congested stems and often dense clustering of flowers on the affected branches/stems. The exact cause is not clear - it may very well be just a genetic abnornmality, but there is some thought the phenomenon can be vectored by insects, the result of a bacterium or other stresses occurring during germination or during the growing season. Whatever the cause, it is a rather fascinating (LOL!!) phenomenon and fasciated plants always draw attention.

In some plants, this unusual growth habit is very stable - a number of common conifer selections sport fasciated foliage and fantail willows are grown specifically for this feature. It can happen with any type of plant but members of the rose family (Rosaceae) are quite prone to developing fasciation as are lilies and delphiniums. And most deciduous trees. Cockscomb celosia is plant that displays stable fasciation beautifully. It doesn't harm the plant and fasciated flowers will not necessarily develop seeds that will carry on the trait. You can remove or not, although with plants known to develop this trait - like those conifers - you would be removing much of their attraction.

Don't know what was up wth the hawthorn, although dead wood can be present in any woody plant at any time for various reasons, not necessarily serious ones. OK to remove whenever discovered.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fasciation fact sheet.....with photos.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 9:28AM
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Let me start by saying that I do not know if this is the answer to your question nor have I ever seen writings which indicate it might be the answer when fasciation suddenly appears in a number of plants at the same time. This is just a guess based on years of observation in my nursery.

A major research institute was located nearby. I stopped there one day and asked if any of the staff was recording ozone fall out. Yes, there was, a scientist who was conducting an interesting research project. So, every time I noted fasciation on numerous plants at the same time I would check with him and find that there had been a heavy ozone fall out about two weeks before. Could this be a partial answer aside from insect damage? Perhaps some of you out there interested in the subject might want to persue the idea further.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 10:30AM
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Hi gardenga
Yes they are in containers.
Thank you so much for the information and the link.
Fasciation is fascinating. The fact that it happened to two
of my plants made me wonder if it wasn't the result of bacteria...but then when I read your link they said they rarely find bacteria to be the I guess it's just
coincidence. I was so grossed out by it...but from what I read it will return. Guess I'll have to learn to live with it.

Hi Nandina
That's a very interesting theory, since they say it is a genetic condition. Maybe the ozone fallout causes genetic damage. I live in NYC, and I am not sure about ozone fallout here.
We usually have excellent air quality believe it or not. I know everyone thinks NYC has terrible air, but that is not the case at all.
I am so relieved to know it's not a disease. I was afraid
my garden would get infested.
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 1:18PM
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